HOW TO “EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH” WE MUST CONTEND EARNESTLY – the Bible in the book of Jude clearly exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once given…” The vivid expression “earnestly contend” is translated from the Greek and literally means to earnestly agonize for the faith. This term is associated with strife and combat of a vigorous and determined quality. The present tense of the verb is indicating that this “earnestly contending” is to be ongoing and continues throughout our life. We are to always be “earnestly contending for the faith”. Jude believed at the time of his writing that the foundational principles of the Christian faith were under attack. I believe we could all agree it seems in this day and age that they are under an ever increasing and relentless attack; hence the need for our ever increasing relentlessness in “earnestly contending for the faith.” Jude in expressing his thought that way, inspired by the Holy Spirit, suggests to us that this is a serious matter; we are at war! Paul talks about the nature of our warfare in II Corinthians 10:3-6 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” And the Apostle Paul talks about this again in Ephesians 6:10-13.
WE MUST USE THE WEAPONS AT OUR DISPOSAL – Paul defines those weapons for us in Ephesians 6:13-18 – “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Notice that most of these things are for our own defense so we won’t be lost in the struggle with the world and what the world will try to tempt us with or discourage us with. Remember these weapons are needed for our own walk and life. Don’t forget all of the weapons we have. Don’t be so quick to take the sword and leave all the rest of these out of the equation. Make sure that you “remove the plank from your own eye” so you will be able to see clearly “to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7: 3-5 – And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.)
PAUL ALSO MENTIONED WEAPONS THAT ARE “MIGHTY THROUGH GOD” – Such weapons as “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” Let us not get too carried away in our attempt to “earnestly contend for the faith” that we forget about “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” II Corinthians 10:1-6. We need to be making sure that we are first “spiritual”, and then displaying gentleness and caution we are commanded to try to make right any fault with meekness. (Galatians 6:1– Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.) Do not think too highly of yourself if you are a Christian; remember you are just a rotten fault filled sinner saved by grace. The Apostle Paul also commands us to refrain from quarrels and to be applying gentleness, with the Word, patience and humility when we see the need to correct opposition. (II Timothy 2:23-25 – But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;) Notice what all Paul is saying in this passage. When we face opposition to ourselves or our beliefs how are we to handle it? Paul tells us to avoid unlearned questions. Why? – Because they cause strife among our fellow brethren in Christ. Paul also teaches us to be gentle to all men, to be apt to teach, to be patient and to do all of this with meekness.
THE CALL BY JUDE TO “EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH” IS NOT A LICENSE TO ENGAGE IN THIS WITH “WRATH” AND “STRIFE”. (Galatians 5:19-21) But it is a call to vigorously and agonizingly contend with all the weapons at our disposal. Most important of which is the Word of God. But we also need to be displaying the Christ like qualities of meekness and gentleness. Meekness and gentleness in your presentation will win more people over for the Lord than strife and wrath. Do not be guilty of not obeying Christ by perverting his teachings and setting yourself up as your own authority on the word of God; because of those that do this is why we need to be “earnestly contending for the faith”. Whose side are you on? Have you submitted to Christ’s authority over you and to follow his teachings and to emulate the example he set for us or are you setting yourself up as the ultimate authority in your life? Are you steadfastly continuing in the Apostle’s doctrine? (Acts 2:42 – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.)
Our change made possible because of our Hope. Faith in Jesus has the power to change lives, has the power to answer prayers, the power to meet our needs and the power to save our souls. Faith in Jesus can change the worst most hopeless lost cause of a life for the better. There is no lost cause as long as Jesus is part of the equation. Jesus delights in giving us second chances.
Jesus has a heart for people. When He sees our needs it moves Him with compassion. (Mathew 9:36 – But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.) Jesus has the power to help us through the storms of life. He will make sure, if we trust in Him, that we get through to the other side of our problem. (Luke 8:22-25 – Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.) Jesus has the power to change lives. The woman at the well had been married several times and was currently living in adultery. She thought her situation was hopeless but our God is an all powerful God. He has the power to help anyone out of any situation.
Paul’s changed life because of the Lord is a great example: The stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58-8:3) The words ‘made havock’ in verse 3 of chapter 8 means ‘to ravage like a wild beast’ – That is how much Saul/Paul hated Christians! (Acts 9:1-2) in verse one it says “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” – Saul here is still just hating the Christians and wanting to do everything he can to destroy them.(Acts 9:3-6) Then Jesus came into Saul’s life and he repented of his wicked ways and turned to the Lord.
In verse 5 the Bible says “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” – This is a figure of speech meaning that Saul was already starting to get convicted about what he was doing to Christians. Just imagine with sandals on kicking against sharp pointed needles. That would hurt and cause you pain. That is what persecuting the Christians was doing to Saul it was already starting to hurt him inside causing him pain. Acts 9:4-21 finishes the story of Paul’s salvation and repentance (his turning from sin and turning to the Lord) and his change from a persecutor of Christians to an Apostle.
So Paul’s example of a changed life starts in Acts 7:58 with the stoning of Stephen, then to Acts 8:3 where he ‘made havock’, to Acts 9:1 to where he was ‘breathing out threatenings and slaughter’, then to Acts 9:3-6 where he repented and Jesus came into his life, and finishes in Acts 9:20 when Paul ‘preached Christ’. So we have the example of Paul’s life where he started out persecuting the Christians. Then he started feeling convicted ‘hard for thee to kick against the pricks’. Then Jesus came into his life and changed it forever then it ends with Paul preaching Jesus! Isn’t it amazing how God can change some one’s life?
THE TOTAL SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE. (Psalm 19:7-9 – The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.)
“The law of the LORD is perfect” – the Hebrew word translated as “perfect” means perfectly complete, full and whole. So the Word of the Lord is perfect complete and whole. It is all sufficient to meet any and every need that arises. God’s word is sufficient to transform people completely from the inside out. This begins with our salvation and continues with our sanctification. (I Corinthians 1:30 – But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption) – Sanctification means the process of making ourselves holy or Christ like. Unlike the imperfect and incomplete wisdom of men the Bible is all comprehensive in that by pointing a sinner to Christ it has the power to change that sinner into what God desires them to be.
“the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” – God’s word is His testimony to us about himself. Everything we need to know about Him he has revealed to us in Scripture. Everything we need to know about life he has told us in Scripture.“The Bible, then, can take naïve, uninstructed, and undiscerning people and make them skilled in wise decision-making and practical holiness.” John MacArthur. The Bible touches all areas of our lives, everything we need to know to live a Godly, fruitful and happy life can be found in the Scriptures. The light we need to make all the areas of our life clear will come from God and His Word. (Psalm 18:28 – For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.)The Word of God gives us understanding of situations. It will help to give us insight into decisions we need to make. The Word of God will shed light on the subject of our concerns. (Psalm 119:130 – The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.)
“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart” – This means the Divine principles laid out for us in Scripture will lead to a sure path for us to follow all the days of our life. God has given us His word so that we can successfully navigate our way through life. (Psalm 107:23 – They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.)True and lasting happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction cannot be found in the sensual pleasures of sin but only are found in living a life for God and living that life by the principles found in His word.
“commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” – In a world that is characterized by sinful darkness and confusion, the Word of God brings light and clarity to our lives. Through the Scriptures we can know the truth and this knowledge will free us from the bondage of sin. (John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)Through accessing the ultimate resource on how to live our lives we can understand right and wrong in an “upside down world”. We can be comforted in a world that’s in chaos around us. We can rest in the Lord and not worry like the lost world around us. The simplest of Christians know more than some of the “smartest” people in the world. Through the knowledge received by God’s word which is dismissed by the world.
We know how the world began.
We know how mankind began.
We know how to live eternally in Heaven with our creator.
We know what will happen to us when we die.
We know where to turn in time of crisis.
We know how the world will end.
“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever” – The Bible tells us the right way to worship the true God. There is no taint or imperfection in God or His Word. His Word in pure. “The fear of the LORD is clean” (Psalm 119:140 – Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.) – We rejoice and love God’s word because we know it is truth. The word of God never changes. The World and its philosophies about life are always changing but the word of God is unchanging. It is the anchor for our ship as we navigate our way through the seas of life.
“the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” – We have the complete Word of God. We need no other revelation. All we need is the true and altogether righteous word of our Lord. We have no excuse for not having all the knowledge we need to navigate our life in the right way for the Lord. We have the truth. We have the ultimate guidebook on life. We possess all that we need in the form of the Bible. The Bible describes some people as “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” II Timothy 3:7. This is not referring to intellectual truth or wisdom but it is referring to the truth about life, death, God, man, sin, Hell, joy peace and eternity. It is referring to the truth about life. People can’t learn that truth; you only get that truth through a personal relationship with Christ and through thoughtful study of His word.
Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God”
We will all someday give an account for everything we do here on earth- days we were encouraged to work for God but stood back, making excuses for NOT doing something asked of you for His service . Deuteronomy says we are to walk in His ways and to love Him and serve The Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul! Serving God wholeheartedly is serving Him without reservation and excuses!! We should serve Him with a determination to never give up!!
“There will always be a way for a determined soul”
Serving God wholeheartedly means serving only God! Serving God in sincerity and truth, serve God boldly and serve God consistently. We should learn to serve God regardless of trials and tribulations- serve God in the most difficult times- even those times our prayers are not answered! Will you hear at the end of your earthly journey “well done thou good and faithful servant?”
Dealing with Anger & Bitterness Biblically
James 1:19-20 – “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
We need to learn to control our anger and not let it control us. Don’t hold on to your anger and let it turn into bitterness. A Christian is to be slow to anger and quick to get rid of it (James 1:19-20). Jesus gives us four ways to help us resolve our anger in Luke 6:27 -28 – “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
“Love your enemies” – how many of us could honestly say we love our enemies? The Lord Jesus tells us to in these verses. Following this command of our Lord can be a challenging thing sometimes, but it is the right thing to do and the thing that will help us not to harbor anger and let it turn into bitterness.
“Do good to them which hate you” – again also another commandment from our Lord which could be challenging to implement. Our old sin nature just wants to get even with those we are angry at but Jesus tells us to “do good to them”. (Romans 12:20 – Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.)
“Bless them which curse you” – we are to bless them which curse us. Is that a natural reaction to bless someone who curses you? – No it is not. We have to suppress our old sin nature to do this. We have to exercise self control. The Lord Jesus is an awesome example of this. He was falsely arrested, falsely tried, falsely convicted and falsely sentenced. He could have called down 12 legion of angels and wiped out all them that did this but instead He blessed them by dying on the cross for the very sins they were committing and giving them the opportunity to go Heaven with Him. (Mathew 26:53 – Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?)
“Pray for them which despitefully use you” – Have you ever been used by someone? Or at least felt like you were used? Did you pray for that person afterwards? We are told by Christ we are supposed to.
Forgiveness is how we get rid of the anger. Forgiveness is to occur every time an offense happens. (Luke 17:3-4 – Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.) As a Christian you must forgive because you have been forgiven. (Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.)God will forgive Christians as we forgive others. (Mathew 6:14-15 – For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.)